It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three years since the first season of Oreimo graced our screens – though partly that feeling is because the show had more strongly relevant BD bonus episodes (and better extras) than almost any anime has. In fact it seems quite obvious that the series continuity is taking off from the “True End” of the Blu-ray episodes and not the “Good End” of the TV series. Given how much of those bonus episodes I liked, that can be taken as a blessing and a curse.
Oreimo is one of those shows I look at and sometimes have a hard time figuring out why I like it as much as I do. It seems to epitomize a lot of things I hate – it’s the very personification of the light-novelizing of anime, and there’s a character in there for pretty much every annoying trope I’ve come to despise. Yet there’s a way this series does meta that somehow makes it work, where other shows try and fail miserably. Oreimo seems to have a better understanding of what it is than almost any of its imitators, and dances the line between self-parody and playing it straight pretty much non-stop.
The fundamental problem of this series for me is and has always been Kirino, who I’ve never remotely liked. Well, it’s pretty much as if the last series – “Good” or “True” end, it doesn’t matter – never happened. Kirino is still a bitch, she still treats her brother like garbage despite the fact that he’s extraordinarily kind to her, and she remains for me the biggest weakness in Oreimo. When you have a series where the supporting cast tends to be much more likeable than the female lead, you have a bit of a complicated situation – and this isn’t made easier by the fact than with Kirino absent for almost the entire True End, the series delivered arguably its best run of episodes. The increased focus on Kuroneko and the Computer Research Club was like a cleansing wind that swept a lot of bad odors from the building, and that’s why I wasn’t especially thrilled when Kirino returned in the final episode.
So where does that leave us now? Remarkably, with almost nothing seemingly changed. I guess you wouldn’t have a series if Kirino were suddenly a good person, but I was hoping for some residual signs of growth based on the way things left off. Then there’s the dicey issue of incest, which I’m never quite sure if Oreimo is just teasing with or asking us to accept as a serious alternative. Things have at least changed between Kyousuke and Kuroneko, thanks to her virtual (I use that word in the old-fashioned sense) confession, though not for the better – there’s a definite tension in the air between them now. No doubt of her interest, and he’s at least intrigued – but until he sorts out the obvious improper feelings between himself and Kirino, I don’t expect that to go anywhere. There’s also the matter of osananajimi Manami, who remains a rock of support for Kyousuke but for whom he still shows no signs of real romantic feelings. In fact, much of the first episode is spent in a quick survey of re-introductions to the characters of the first season, including Kirino’s incredibly annoying friends and the club members.
Of course, when a series has as much to offer as Oreimo does, more of the same isn’t all bad. We still have one of the best casts in the business – all familiar names, but seemingly perfectly cast (even Taketatsu Ayana as Kirino, who plays the character as written beautifully). The dialogue is still snappy and razor-sharp, and the show does the otaku parody better than any anime I’ve seen apart from perhaps Steins;Gate. This is another area where Oreimo is quite meta, and walks a very fine line between derision and affection with consummate skill – this show understands both otaku and fujoshi and is unsparing in needling then, but always pulls up short of condemnation (I’ve always suspected, in part, because the author is an unapologetic example himself). But if Oreimo is to deliver a really satisfying second season, I think it needs to follow one of two paths – either Kirino shows us some real growth, or the bulk of the season focuses on Kyousuke, Kuroneko, Saori and the Computer Research Club. Are either of those things likely? I have my suspicions, but it’s rare that this series doesn’t at least entertain me so I’m happy enough to tag along and wait for the answer.
Author’s Note: Six episode posts on one day, and eleven in two? That’s nuts – the weekend cut is going to be a high threshold this season.
OP: “reunion” by ClariS